CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee today agreed to submit all or part of the contractual disagreement between BlueCross and HCA to mediation in accordance with a Metro Council resolution.

“This unfortunate situation came about because HCA’s rates were so far out of line with other Tennessee hospitals. Our customers have told us that affordability is their principal issue with healthcare insurance, “said Vicky Gregg, President and CEO of BlueCross. “We welcome this opportunity for impartial mediation offered by the Metro Council resolution.”

“We undertook this issue based on our belief that HCA simply charges too much, and we are willing to stand by that belief and let an impartial third party look into the matter,” Gregg said. “We are willing to enter mediation for either the entire contract, or just those counties where HCA is the sole hospital provider.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee delivered to the Metropolitan Clerk a letter of response to resolution RS2003-1344. That resolution, sponsored by David Briley and adopted February 4, calls for BlueCross and HCA to enter into mediated negotiations.

“We are more than willing to let a mediator look at our rates for comparable hospitals and help reach a reasonable contract,” said Ron Harr, senior vice president for BlueCross.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.